Ellen Shapiro, founder of Alphagram

Our Story

Good products emanate from a real need.

What makes our products different? Their simple, clear graphic design is based on practical, time-tested methodologies. Each element has a purpose: to help every child “see” the sounds that letters make—and learn to read.

When my son Alex was finishing first grade and still not reading at all, he was diagnosed with dyslexia. A tutor who used explicit, multisensory techniques based on the Orton-Gillingham methodology taught him to listen to a sound and repeat it, to trace the letter shape with his finger, and to associate each letter with a picture that represented that sound. Soon, Alex was able to “blend” two and three letters to read syllables and words. And then to decode whole sentences and stories.

Today, Alex has a degree in East Asian Studies from Oberlin College and is chief technology officer one of Asia’s hottest internet companies—and is an amazing dad himself who’s teaching my pre-schooler grandson with Alphagram — and has been encouraging me to expand the product line beyond the teacher-tutor market and make it widely available to parents.


The tutor’s techniques were successful, but her homemade materials left much to be desired. As a graphic designer, I realized that my expertise could fulfill a need. I consulted with experts in phonemic awareness, visited schools, met with special education teachers and regular classroom teachers, and attended conference workshops. Inspired by the flip-books that let you make funny, mixed-up characters with different heads, bodies, and feet, I developed a flip-book with moveable flash cards with large letters, icons, and key words. The popular Is It a Word–Or Not? flip-book, patented in 1997, lets you make more than 1,200 consonant-short vowel-consonant syllables and words (CVCs, the building blocks of reading). It's used by tutors and in schools around the country.

For learners having difficulties.

For some children—about 15 percent of the population—learning to read is difficult. Many popular reading programs and teaching techniques do not work for kids with dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. That’s because the pages of typical phonics workbooks and online games are crammed with way too many letters, words, colors, sounds, and pictures.

Kids with learning difficulties can only learn to read with a systematic, sequential approach that uses multi-sensory techniques. Our products are designed to focus the child’s attention on one large letter at a time, with no distracting elements. Color-coding keeps eyes going in the right direction. Large, clear, well designed letters and icons help kids associate each letter shape with its sound. There are no parts to get lost or out of order.

And for every child.

If these techniques can help kids with learning and language difficulties, can’t they help all children learn to read sooner and better? Yes! Alphagram materials are perfect for home-schooling parents. They supplement literature-based K-3 reading programs. They can reinforce words in the day’s story or teach common spelling patterns. They can be used in small groups and resource rooms to help students who need extra attention.

And now, during this time when schools are closed, they are here for you to use at home, to keep pre-schoolers and kindergarteners happily occupied and learning. And they fill a huge gap for older kids who were in special ed or resource room.  

They are a great way for parents and grandparents to introduce pre-schoolers to the alphabet and the concepts of letter-sounds and blending.

We listen.

Since we first tested prototypes with primary-grade reading teachers in New York City, customers have been telling us that kids love our products—and that they work. Please see our “From Parents and Teachers” (testimonials) page.

Based on teacher, tutor, and parent requests, we developed a line of products including WordMaker, with individual packs of cards that let you spell any word; the Ready, Set, Read! teaching guide series filled with fun, effective lesson activities; Big Letter-Sound Cards for hanging on the wall, “Letter-Sounds Posters” in English, Spanish, Hebrew, and Chinese; “Alphagram Tracing Letters” for handwriting practice (many kids who can read can’t write legibly); and our super-fun “Write the Right Word” game that teaches vocabulary and spelling.

And now we have inexpensive NEW downloadable PDF games and parent and teacher guides — so your child or students can start having fun while learning—today.

Please let us know what you would like to see (and use) next!

We want to hear from you.

We warmly welcome product feedback. How are you using our products? How is your child or student using them to succeed? How could this site be improved? Please e-mail us at info@alphagram.com.